Set on a historic property and featuring events to match, the Tilted Teacup Tea Room & Boutique strives to give customers an authentic English tea experience.
The owners, Aimee and John Gans, opened the Tilted Teacup in 2012 and business has been growing ever since. John Gans, a former US Army mechanic, said he “went from tanks to tea” when he moved forward with supporting his wife’s passion for managing a teahouse. “I think it was always in me,” said Aimee Gans, “A passion to serve. I think I’ve always wanted to have a tearoom.”
“Nowadays, everything is too fast-paced, what we offer is an uplifting dining experience in an unhurried atmosphere. It’s like going to a spa for lunch,” John said.
Built in 1924, the historic Rogers’ Christmas House is the home of the Tilted Teacup. The building is one of six historic houses on the Brooksville, Florida, property. The Rogers’ Christmas House emanates Old World enchantment with its original mahogany stained floors and large fireplace mantel.
Another house on the property, Saxon Manor, is used as a wedding venue. “We have a very unique setting and we utilize that,” John said. “The house that our restaurant is located in was built in 1924 and has a great history of its own, and our events that we choose complement that setting.”
The main floor of Christma House has three rooms, which the Ganses have named Downton Parlor, English Cottage and Grandma Helen’s. Upstairs is the Secret Garden room. Each space features a different color scheme and its own character, yet blends cohesively with the rest of the house. The Ganses believe the atmosphere of the house offers a more authentic experience for customers than tearooms located in strip shopping centers. Even though the atmosphere is traditional, it is not formal. Aimee infuses her Southern charm in interaction with customers, who she enjoys getting to know. “Just to get a smile out of someone who came in, then I know I’ve done my job. That is more my passion than anything.”
The food is authentic, too, as the menu consists of Aimee’s own recipes, which she prepares fresh on-site. The aroma of scones and other goodies baking in the oven fills the house.
One of the Tilted Teacup’s popular events is the Downton Abbey Christmas Tea, which the Ganses have produced for four years. “Who didn’t like ‘Downton Abbey,’ the storyline, the plot,” asked John. For this event, everyone dresses in Edwardian attire. Customers get tea sandwiches, quiche, a scone, petit fours and tea. The Ganses also set up a 10-foot-by-10-foot backdrop of a huge fireplace like the one in “Downton Abbey,” and guests can have their pictures taken in front of it.
Other annual events are the Titanic High Tea, a Parisian-themed Valentine’s Day event and the Mother’s Day Kentucky Derby event. The Valentine’s Day and Downton Abbey events include carriage rides. The Valentine’s Day event features an Eiffel Tower and a large replica of the structure outside. A cellist and a violinist from the Florida Orchestra fill the air with French music.
“Our tearoom is all about the experience and with our events, it gives us the chance to heighten those experiences for our customers by having additional things like horse and carriage rides,” John said. “Although our events are exhausting, they are very rewarding.” Some customers have made a tradition out of attending these events each year.
As for other retailers who might want to start doing events, he advises to produce events that inspire them and to choose events that complement the products they sell.
A custom-blended tea of theirs, the Cherry Rose Julep, consists of rooibos tea, green tea and Kyoto-scented cherry rose and peppermint. Another Tilted Teacup signature tea is the Brooksville blueberry tea, a mixture of herbal tea and fruit. It is the perfect complement to the Brooksville Blueberry Festival, which takes place April 22-23.
More than 30 flavors of tea can be purchased and an unlimited pot costs $4.95. The Ganses source only organic tea from the Metropolitan Tea Co., and sell tea accessories made by Metropolitan and Adagio.
The good reputation of the Tilted Teacup has largely spread by word of mouth. About 40 percent of customers are regulars and about 60 percent are new. The teahouse draws customers from all over Florida, and much of its clientele are snowbirds from northern states.
The Ganses goals for the future are to open multiple tearooms and to grow their online store. Visit them online at http://thetiltedteacuptearoom.com/.